Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

flippant, and though she continued to bridle and shake her flossy ringlets, she practised scarcely any of those underbred tricks and airs which had so annoyed me at the time of her grand-parents' death.

And so time passed away, and I had completed my twentieth year. “The family” were once more at Dovercourt, and thither, by urgent invitation, I repaired shortly before Christmas. All had gone so quietly for the last three years that I began to think there was no cause for alarm, and that I might safely indulge myself in the society of those who were to me the dearest upon earth. I had paid many visits to my mother during this interval, but I had ab. stained from the open familiarity into which I had been drawn in Paris. I had seen Lady Olive too, and I had heard from time to time reports of her brilliant successes in society. Once or twice she was reported as being on the eve of marriage ; but the news, I suppose, was false, for when I reached Dovercourt that Christmas she was still Olive Walton, and she soon contrived to let me know that her hand was entirely at her own disposal. As for the Marquis, I believe we all began to fancy he would never reappear. For more than three years he had been a wanderer on the face of the earth, and communications from him were few and far between. Nobody seemed to care about his coming back, not even his wife; and Lady Olive, who at first had professed to mourn his absence, was evidently now quite reconciled to it—though she did say sometimes she wondered when papa would write to say that he was coming home.

On Christmas Eve we had a little dance among ourselves. Felix. stowe was at home, of course, and he had brought with him two of his favourite chums from Eton. Maude had also a friend staying with her, and Mrs. Craven and Charlie were spending a few days at the Castle. We were a quiet but very happy party, and we were enjoying ourselves extremely. Never in my life had I felt happier, blither, lighter-hearted. As for Charlie, he was evidently over head and ears in love with Lady Maude, and in a seventh heaven of felicity, being permitted her companionship. The Marchioness looked pale but most lovely; she had been far from well of late, but this evening her sweet face wore its calmest, most satisfied expression. She and Mrs. Craven sat together on a sofa at the end of the room, enjoying their talk, while we young people danced, and played, and sang, and chatted to our hearts' content. We were all as innocently and carelessly happy as, I suppose, any young creatures could be. And the hours flew, and the evening was almost spent before I could feel that it was fairly begun.

Lady Olive had been playing for the dancers, and I had had for my partner the charming little Lady Lucy Lisle, Maude's confidential friend. Not feeling disposed to dance any more, I wandered away from the large drawing-room, into the smaller and more dimlylighted rooms beyond. Lady Olive was with me, her white jewelled fingers resting on my arm, and we were talking in low tones, yet not so low but that any one very near at hand could have heard every word we uttered. For my part, I was beginning to be very foolish about Lady Olive; at last I had faith in her. I adored her proud patrician beauty; I liked to hear her speak scornfully of her admirers, and I could not but fail to know that she regarded me with the very warmest interest. If she did not actually love me, she liked me better than anyone else. She said as much, indeed. She always called me Hugh, and I had forgotten all about her title, and called her simply “ Olive.”

“Let us stop here awhile, Hugh,” she said, as we sat down on a couch, in the last room of the suite—a room lighted only by the distant lamps of the other rooms, from which it was separated by heavy curtains of embroidered silk damask. We sat close together or the downy little couch, which only held two persons, and-I scarcely know what made me do it-I passed my arm round Lady Olive's slender waist, and drew her still nearer to me. We all do unaccountable things at twenty, I suppose.

She did not resent the liberty, and her small delicate hand stole nervously into mine. “Olive!”—I began-I am sure I do not know now what I was going to say, it was never said- never said.

For Lady Olive started from my side and gave a sort of shriek, and at the same moment I espied the figure of a tall man, half hidden by the folds of the thick curtains. I sprang up to question the intruder. At a glance I perceived he was no marauder—that he was certainly a gentleman. But what business had he there, in hiding, in my lady's drawing-room? “May I ask who you are, sir?" I questioned hotly, as if I had been a son of the house.

“You may, Mr. Hugh Vassall !” was the calm rejoinder, in tones that froze my blood,—“I am the Marquis of Dovercourt; I think we have met before.”

(To be continued.)

BIBLE WORK AMONGST FRENCH PRISONERS.

BY PASTEUR DE FAY, OF BRUSSELS.

Minden (Westphalia), Oct. 24, 1870. The charitable idea of employing ministers of the Word to bring the message of salvation to the French prisoners in Germany and to visit the ambulance was originated by Christians inhabiting the Wupperthal (Rhenish Prussia).

“A committee was formed at Elberfeld for this purpose, and as soon as its intentions were made known abundant gifts flowed in to it from all sides. This committee has taken active steps to secure preachers acquainted with French, and to procure a large assortment of New Testaments, detached portions of Scripture, and religious tracts for the prisoners.

“The remembrance that I have had the privilege of labouring during nineteen years in France at the work of our common Master, the thoughts of the many dear friends I possess in that country, along with the hope of being enabled through the Divine blessing to do some good to the poor prisoners so far from their unhappy country, were reasons more than sufficient to induce me to accept with joy the call addressed to me by the above-mentioned committee in view of the noble task which it had undertaken. I obtained an authorisation from Berlin in due form to visit the French prisoners in the fortresses of Minden, Wesel, Cologne, Coblentz, and Mayence.

“At Minden there were at first nearly 5,000 prisoners, but lately more than 3,000 have been sent to West Friesland, where I intend visiting them (D.v.) in a few days. They are employed working at the canals. At Wesel there are several thousands; at Cologne, 10,000; at Coblentz, from 10,000 to 12,000, and an equal number at Mayence.

“I commenced the work entrusted to me at Minden on Thursday, October 20. Here the prisoners are shut into a camp surrounded by a high enclosure of planks. Several rows of tents, mostly circular, containing each half a squad, or fifteen men, constitute the dwellings of the captives. The poor fellows' beds consist of a layer of straw three or four inches thick spread over the bottom of the tent, a little wisp for a pillow, and a woollen blanket for each

As long as the weather continues mild this is tolerable, but should the extreme cold come on before their return to their native country their sufferings will be severe. But it would appear, from what I have heard, that, if the prisoners must pass a part of the winter here, they will be lodged in the town.

“On inquiry, I found that only two or three, out of the 1,500 prisoners remaining at Minden, are Protestants; it was therefore not altogether without apprehension that I presented myself before the camp-commandant, Lieutenant-Colonel B-, to tell him my object, and request from him an order of admittance into the tents. But the Lord disposed his heart favourably towards me, and the order was at once given.

“Having no hope of obtaining authorisation to preach in the open air (which I should have much liked to do in order to save time) on account of the want of Protestants, I resolved to go into each

man.

of the tents separately, with my bag stuffed with New Testaments, portions of the Scriptures, and tracts. On reaching the opening of one of the tents, I ask if I may come in ?' and immediately several voices reply, “Come in, sir, come in.' 'I hope I do not disturb you?" Oh no, sir ; quite the contrary : we are very glad to see you.' And the poor fellows make room, square-fold one of their blankets in a second, for me to sit upon, and begin making excuses for receiving me in such lodgings. I hasten to assure them that I find it very amusing, on the contrary, to be under the tent, &c. &c. My new friends smile, become more at ease, and we are soon as good friends as if we had known each other for years. I tell them my name, my nationality, that I lived in France for a long time, and love that country and have dear friends in it; that I have stayed in such and such departments. When they hear this one will say, 'I am from such a department' (one of those mentioned), and another, “I am from such a one, and so on; their faces brighten, their hearts open (and that is soon the case with the French). When the ground is thus prepared, and their confidence gained, I tell them the object of my visit—'I am come to bring you a word of Christian sympathy and instructive books, particularly the good Word of God, which you can read during the time of your long forced leisure.' “You are very kind, sir, to have thought of us and to have come to see us.' It is not too soon for us to have something to read, for we are mortally tired here," adds another. As I have only twelve or fifteen minutes to spend in each tent, I look for a sergeant or a corporal and give him a New Testament, with the solemn promise that he will read out of it every day to the tentful of men. To eaca of the other fourteen I present a portion of the Word, either a gospel or an epistle, with a tract. Afier this distribution, I say a few words to the little assembly to make them appreciate the Book of God, and to insist on the necessity of reading it with prayer. Before leaving the tent I propose to offer a short prayer. They accept joyfully; the fifteen men uncover their heads and kneel down (even those who are ailing), and I in the midst of them. We pray for the blessing of God upon the reading of the little books, for the prompt restoration of peace, for the prisoners that they may have the happiness of soon returning to their families, for the families in mourning and misery, that they may be consoled from on high, &c. Then the tears (sometimes from a grey-headed sergeant) begin to flow down furtively; all appear serious or moved ; and when the Amen is pronounced they instinctively cross themselves, according to the Roman Catholic custom; then from different sides is heard, 'Thank you, sir ; God will hear your excellent prayer. May God reward you for the visit you have made us! We shall never forget you.'

“In order that they may remember the friend who has visited them, and write to him afterwards if they like, I write upon each New Testament: 'Souvenir of captivity.–Offered by John N., pastor at Chênée, near Liége. Minden, Oct. 1870. The other prisoners copy this in their little books. How many have already promised to write to me when they return to their unhappy country!

“Thus far I have not surprised a smile of mockery on the faces of any of my new audience. One of them, pressing his New Testament to his heart, said to me: 'Ten years hence I shall still have this good book.'

Another said, 'I shall carry mine to my parents.' I do not speak of the probable results of this work, thongh faith may easily foresee them. Our God will cause the good seed to spring up in due time. It is His work. The Lord's workman has only to be taken up about one thing,-faithfully to accomplish the task which His Divine Master has confided to him. Pray that this grace may be granted to him who writes these lines.'”

To this interesting letter we add a few lines received by balloon from Pastor Fisch, of Paris, Secretary of the Evangelical Society. They are addressed to M. Pilatte, of Nice, editor of the Eglise Libre. Their contents will be welcome to your readers, who do not find, in the political newspapers, any account of how the evangelical Christians of Paris are feeling and acting under their present awful trial. “ If our brethren are praying for us,” writes M. Fisch, “I may tell them that their prayers are heard. With a very few exceptions, all the Christians I meet are calm and confiding. Their confidence is of good alloy; it is founded in God, else how can we explain the inward peace they enjoy in one of the most trying positions that it is possible to conceive ? "

A feeling of solidarity is beginning to be developed among the different classes of the population. Paris having now become an intrenched camp, the discipline which reigns in the army is exercising its influence over us. The solution of some of the most difficult social problems is being chalked out by the force of things. The little army of evangelical Christians feel that they need to keep their ranks serried. No. 10, Avenue Percier, which has become the seat of the Evangelical Committee for the wounded, is a centre where meetings of pastors are frequently held. Our Christian ladies meet at the Ouvroir, where they work for the wounded. Besides our two large ambulances of the Chaptal College and the Rue Reuilly, we have opened nine others for the soldiers upon the ramparts, and most of these have their work-room. We are about to organise large economical cooking dépôts for the indigent population. The day before yesterday a meeting of brethren decided upon the foundation of a daily paper for treating the current ques. tions from a Christian point of view. Several evening meetings

« ElőzőTovább »